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Joseph Bosworth (1789 – 27 May 1876), English scholar of Anglo-Saxon language and Anglo-Saxon literature, was born in Derbyshire.

Educated at Repton, whence he proceeded to the University of Aberdeen, he became in 1817 vicar of Little Horwood, Buckinghamshire, and devoted his spare time to literature and particularly to the study of Anglo-Saxon. In 1823 his Elements of Anglo-Saxon Grammar appeared, and he also matriculated at Trinity College, Cambridge as a 'ten-year' student.[1]

In 1829 Bosworth went to Holland as chaplain, first at Amsterdam and then at Rotterdam. He remained in Holland until 1840, working there on his Dictionary of the Anglo-Saxon Language (1838), his best-known work. Building on the dictionary Thomas Toller compiled the new edition of the dictionary based on Bosworth's work, both printed and in manuscript, and added a supplement (2 vols. 1898-1921).

In 1857 he became rector of Water Stratford, Buckinghamshire, and in the following year was appointed Rawlinsonian Professor of Anglo-Saxon at Oxford. He gave to the University of Cambridge in 1867 £10,000 for the establishment of a professorship of Anglo-Saxon. He died leaving behind him a mass of annotations on the Anglo-Saxon charters, and is buried in Water Stratford churchyard. The Oxford professorship was held by J. R. R. Tolkien from 1925 to 1945, by which time it was known as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professorship of Anglo-Saxon (the name having been changed in 1916).


  1. ^ Bosworth, Joseph in Venn, J. & J. A., Alumni Cantabrigienses, Cambridge University Press, 10 vols, 1922–1958.

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